“We read books to find out who we are.” Author Ursula Le Guin
“Leisure without literature is death” Seneca the Younger
We are now in the full swing of Summer (heatwave and all) and one of the first tasks I undertake before any holiday is to decide what books to read. This rather delicate selection procedure can be akin to Sophie’s choice. I can almost hear my unread books pleading with me for some much needed attention (“pick me, pick me!” they cry). And so I thought I would share with you some of the books which have made it onto my Summer reading list, to hopefully inspire.
This is a perfect Summer read if you’re after something with a bit of an edge. It’s tells the story of a mother/daughter duo travelling to a Spainish clinic for treatment of the mother’s mysterious illness. Heat from the sun mirrors the tension and rage between our two female leads, along with hints of the erotic and the mythic.
Recently published to rave reviews, I felt compelled to finally succumb to Matt Haig’s writing and I have a feeling I am not going to be disappointed. Matt who has suffered with anxiety and panic attacks, shares his wisdom on how to survive in our modern world. The book is broken down into many short sections (making it an easy read) with great titles including “ Ten ways to work without breaking down”, “Insecurity is not about your face” and “A therapy session in 2049” (alluding to the neglect children might experience due to their parents’ smart phone addiction).
This is a self-help classic, which I have recently been discussing in book group. Although published in 1956, it still has incredible resonance for us in the current day. It’s a short yet dense book with many ideas and thoughts about love, which stay with you long after turning the page. Fromm’s main argument that love isn’t something which happens to us, but is something we cultivate. Fromm explains that love requires discipline, concentration, patience and faith. He says we don’t fall in love, but rather we stand in love, making love far less down to chance or accident but something of our own choosing. He concludes that “ love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” Nicely put Mr Fromm.
Grayson Perry, the artist (and partner to the fabulous psychotherapist Philippa Perry) writes about the massively important topic of masculinity. He uses his artistic imagination and good humour to explore what it means to be a man in our world. The opening paragraph immediately got me hooked, I won’t spoil it but it ends with him telling a father “I hope your son can afford a good psychotherapist when he grows up.” Later on he writes “For many young men today, being a man is to be like one of those Japanese soldiers emerging from the jungle, still fighting after the war was long over. They are conditioned to be something that is no longer needed”. Thought provoking stuff , brilliantly conveyed.
I have been a long-term fan of TSOL and so was intrigued by their recent publication explaining psychotherapy. This pocket-sized book covers the key aspects of therapy and think this is a good read for anyone thinking about starting therapy. It’s divided into three main sections, why we need therapy, how it works and some case studies to illustrate key concepts including the good child, splitting and attachment styles. I especially like the book’s conclusion, which addresses some of our key judgements about therapy and also contains a discussion of how therapy might change us.
Published late last year, this follows on from Brene’s work around courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She has written a few books on the topic but this for me is my favourite. The book is a call to action. For us to have the courage to stand alone and through this we can find true belonging in the world. She writes “ To know you can navigate the wilderness on your own- to know that you can stay true to your beliefs, trust yourself, and survive it – that is true belonging.” I also recommend her two very popular TED talks as a taster to her work.
Happy reading and here’s to a restful Summer break!
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash